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Oxfam and PN

Unseen Work, Unmet Needs: Exploring the intersections of gender, race and ethnicity in unpaid care labor and paid labor in the U.S.

Oxfam America and Prosperity Now have embarked on a comprehensive joint research project to explore the dynamics of women’s paid and unpaid labor in the US, particularly for women of color, who are disproportionately affected by the dual impact of paid work and unpaid care responsibilities. This report adopts an intersectional lens to delve into the disparities in unpaid care and the inequities in the paid labor force. The relationship between paid and unpaid labor reveals significant challenges, with many facing systemic barriers in accessing essential support such as workplace flexibility, equitable pay, and affordable care services. Particularly, the interplay of gender and race/ethnicity in this context spotlights the unique and disproportionate challenges women of color encounter in both paid and unpaid labor.

The research focuses on both paid and unpaid labor, shedding light on the often invisible or underappreciated roles women play in the economy. Paid labor is commonly understood and recognized, but unpaid labor, including care work for children and adults, remains largely unseen and unvalued, despite its critical role in the economic and social fabric of our society. This study is rooted in the principles of intersectional feminism and labor economics, recognizing that gender, race, ethnicity, and class are not isolated factors but intersect and interact, influencing the experiences of women in the US labor market.

The study seeks to bring visibility to this work and underscore its significance in economic policy. The urgency of the project is highlighted by the recent social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has significantly affected unpaid care work, altering its distribution among men and women as well as across racial and ethnic groups. The paper also brings in the voices of the people who are holding crucial caregiving roles in their communities so readers can hear from individuals directly. The research team collected testimonials from nurse practitioners, nonprofit workers, public school workers, and psychologists, some of whom have had to leave their jobs to keep up with care responsibilities to highlight the lived experience that exists within the data.


Oxfam America

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